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NSU study finds link between gut microbiome and sleep quality

Study conducted as partnership between two colleges

A new study conducted by two NSU colleges has found a link between gut health/microbiome diversity and sleep quality.

Tartar“Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans,” published in PLoS ONE, is the product of a joint research effort between faculty and students from the College of Psychology and the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography.

“Gut microbiome research is a hot area right now,” said Professor Jaime Tartar, Ph.D., of the College of Psychology’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. “The general idea is that the more diversity of bacteria species you have in your gut, the healthier you are.”

Tartar said that there is a bidirectional relationship in that neurotransmitters released by gut bacteria can directly affect neurotransmitters released by the brain.

“The idea that we feel things in our gut isn’t completely untrue,” she said.

For the study, the NSU team used a device to track sleep in 40 participants for 30 days. They also extracted DNA from fecal samples to examine gut microbiome diversity. The team found that people who were not getting enough sleep had poor gut microbiome sleep.

"We think that this work serves to establish, for the first time, a link between the gut microbiome, sleep quality and the immune system. It could only be accomplished by merging four fields - neuroscience, genomics, microbiology and modelling - thus interdisciplinary and cross-college collaboration was essential to its success,” said Professor Jose V. Lopez, Ph.D., of the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography's Department of Biological Sciences.

Tartar said the next step is seeking external funding and studying sleep stages in populations of good sleepers and bad sleepers to attempt to replicate their findings. They would also examine REM and non-REM sleep and relate specific stages of sleep to gut microbiome diversity.

Future research could lead to methods for improving sleep quality via gut microbiome manipulation.

“This could help students and other stressed out individuals prepare for their tests,” Lopez said.

To read the study, click here.

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